Top Chef host, cookbook author and former model Padma Lakshmi kicked off New York City's fashion week by judging hors d'oeuvres created by six fashion celebs in a cook-off at Bergdorf Goodman's BG Restaurant. The contestants included designers Peter Som (panko-fried oysters with blood-orange gastrique and tartar sauce) and Naeem Khan (chicken with 26 Indian spices, wrapped in lettuce), but the hands-down winning dish, according to Padma (and F&W's omniscient Kate Krader), was Lela Rose's corn crepe topped with lobster and a cilantro–pine nut salsa. Midway through the competition, Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue, peeked into the room, threw her head back with a rarely captured laugh and exited into the fashion ether.
© Alessandra Bulow
Mary-Kate & Ashley working hard for their money.
Later that night, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen served watermelon-and-candied-ginger martinis to a packed room of crazed fans in an effort to promote their clothing lines Elizabeth & James and The Row. A few minutes into the service, Ashley said, "Is there music?" and the staff turned on some beats. Any good bar patron knows that you should always tip the bartender, so I dropped a dollar on the bar (a move that confused Mary-Kate and made it into the next day's paper). After all, leaving a tip never goes out of style–even if it's for a couple of billionaires.
This Friday kicks off the second annual New York City Craft Beer Week, a 10-day event that includes incredible beer-pairing dinners hosted by top New York state brewers and star New York City chefs, as well as tastings, seminars and bar crawls. Next month, a new type of beer-appreciation event will take place in Reno, Nevada. On October 23, the city will host the first-ever international canned beer festival. But don’t expect to find PBR or Miller. The event, dubbed Canfest, brings together a growing number of craft breweries, like Reno’s Buckbean Brewing Company, Maui Brewing Company and Oskar Blues, that eschew bottles for eco-friendly (and, some argue, more beer-friendly) aluminum cans. Celebrities from the beer world will serve as judges. The daylong festival will also include beer-and-food pairings and seminars with brewers.
As New York magazine has observed, star athletes are turning into foodies. Tour de France teams now hire chefs trained at the elite Culinary Institute of America. NBA players are searching for authentic hummus. And earlier this year, hockey player Sean Avery of the New York Rangers even opened a sports bar/restaurant, Manhattan's Warren 77, serving incredible garlic fries and roast chicken.
Athletes may need to start keeping their inner restaurant critic in check though. San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was recently fined $2,500 after Tweeting that the bad food served at training camp may be the reason his football team can’t seem to reach the Super Bowl.
The coolest new place to take in great design, food and wine is MADCrush . This new pop-up bar appears for the first time tonight at NYC's great new Museum of Arts and Design. Restaurant design genius Stephanie Goto created the space largely from recycled wine boxes and crates and it will appear on the museum’s seventh floor every Thursday from 5 to 10:30 p.m., until the end of August. The menu: wines by the taste, glass and bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits. Del Posto’s Mark Ladner is cooking for opening night. Future guest chefs will include George Mendes of Aldea and Scott Conant of Scarpetta.
NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon this week by handing out slices of a giant moon pie
, and a San Diego woman known as "The Cheese Lady"
sculpted a five-and-a-half-foot-tall astronaut from a 1,920-pound block of Wisconsin mild cheddar. I commemorated the historic event on a smaller scale at supercool Queens, NY, bar Dutch Kills
with a Moonwalk, a fruity sparkling cocktail that was the first the astronauts drank upon their return to earth. Here's the original recipe for the drink, created in 1969 by Joe Gilmore, the head barman at the Savoy Hotel in London:
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
2 dashes rosewater
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Grand Marnier, grapefruit juice and rosewater and shake lightly. Strain into a chilled coupe and top with Champagne.
Star Boston mixologist Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli recently launched a “Do Try This At Home” series of cocktail classes at Craigie on Main's bar in Cambridge that is part history lesson, part hands-on cocktail laboratory and part cocktail tasting. Just back from last weekend's Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans, Tom hosted the first two-hour class, “Bar Meets Apothecary: Drops, Dashes and Ounces—the Impact of Bitters.” Future classes will focus on vermouth and the savory-drink pantry. Tom is also contemplating a winter-warmers lesson for November.
Friday evening found me hanging out at the Lower East Side wine bar Ten Bells with a couple of friends who were in from Paris and with the wines of Chablis producers, Alice and Olivier de Moor. This pair has been making wine together in Chablis since 1994, striving to makes wine in the most hands-off way possible by using organic grapes, pneumatic presses to squeeze the grapes, gravity to move juice from one phase of winemaking to the next and without the addition of sulfur. Strangely enough, we didn't try any of their Chablis, but ordered three of their other wines, which led to an impromptu investigation into what else they can do. Each was dramatically different from the next, but all had clean, driven acidity and graceful balance, as might be expected from people who are experts at Chablis. Here was the line up:
2006 Alice & Olivier de Moor Bourgogne Aligoté ($23; find this wine)
In Burgundy, the grape variety Aligoté is often overshadowed by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but this wine, with its ripe green-apple zip and stony minerality, shows that it has some potential of its own.
2006 Alice & Olivier de Moor Bourgogne Chitry ($25; find this wine)
The de Moor's Bourgogne Chitry comes from a region just beyond the Chablis appellation. This chardonnay is long and streamlined with delicate sweet citrus fruit and peppery baking-spice notes.
2007 Alice & Olivier de Moor Sauvignon de Saint-Bris ($22; find this wine)
This region to the southwest of Chablis produces old-vine sauvignon blanc that tends to be much fuller and more lush than in other regions like the Loire. This vintage from the de Moors keeps giving and giving bright candied lemon flavors with intriguing salinity.
These all were nice accompaniments to the garlicky baby eel salad, thick brandade, salty boquerones, and grilled octopus and potato salad that we had with them, making for not only a study in de Moor wines, but in all things seafood, as well.
There aren't any of Southwest Airlines'
famous rapping flight attendants
at The Southwest Porch
, the airline-sponsored pop-up dining patio in New York City's Bryant Park
. Instead, there are some great new sandwiches from 'wichcraft,
the popular Bryant Park kiosk that's part of the Craft
family of restaurants.
“We thought it'd be fun to do interpretations of iconic foods from each city on Southwest Airlines' new flight routes from New York,” says Sisha Ortúza, 'wichcraft's chef and co-owner (with star chef Tom Colicchio). Ortúzar came up with a menu that includes an NYC meatball parm sub, a Chicago bratwurst with sweet sautéed onions and (my favorite) a Baltimore soft-shell-crab sandwich with watercress and a tartar sauce made with lemon aioli and house-made pickles.
Now if only Southwest would offer the sandwiches on their flights, I might be inspired to bust a rhyme—although a couple of the ginger margaritas at The Southwest Porch might do the trick.
A big part of St. Louis’s transformation into a food destination is the creativity of people like Gerard Craft. In a few weeks, the F&W Best New Chef 2008 will open Niche Taste Bar, a small-plates and classic-cocktails joint, in the space that was Veruca bakeshop. He’s Tweeted Taste Bar news obsessively for the past month and yesterday announced that local mixologist Ted Kilgore will head the drinks program (One of Kilgore's best recipes is in F&W Cocktails 2008). As for the food, Craft says everything will be cooked on a hibachi or induction burner or in an immersion circulator—that’s it! There will be things on toast (spicy pork meatballs with radish and parsley) and on sticks (grilled escolar with pineapple and pepperoni). There will also be pork liver and foie gras pâté in crocks and maybe a porchetta for slicing. Craft is even smoking his own country hams. With only about 18 seats at the wooden communal table and bar, space will be tight. My advice: Get there early. It’s sure to be the hottest spot in town.
When I told F&W spirits correspondent Jim Meehan that I was going to Belfast, he told me the city is home to one of the world’s best cocktail bars, at the Merchant Hotel. Sean Muldoon is the bar manager and brains behind “The Bar,” and his ambitious cocktail list reads like a guide to the art of mixology, with definitions, a glassware chart, historic illustrations and even some recipes. But the item on the list that immediately drew my attention was the Platinum Level Mai Tai, surely one of the world's most expensive drinks at 750 pounds (about $1,200). Muldoon makes it with 17-year-old Wray and Nephew rum—one of the key ingredients in the original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. The bottle is one of just 12 and dates back to the 1940s; only one measure of rum is left in it. I decided to leave it for a true cocktail connoisseur (and someone with deeper pockets), and settled for the 10 pound ($16) Silver Level Mai Tai, mixed with Inner Circle Green Dot rum. It was great—and a welcome break from all the Guinness I’d been drinking.